Cardinal George Pell meets with Pope Francis for first time since child sexual abuse convictions quashed
Cardinal George Pell has met with Pope Francis at the Vatican.
- George Pell has met with the Pope for the first time since leaving the Vatican in 2017 to face allegations of child sex offences in Australia
- A photo released by the Vatican shows the pair sitting closely together at the Pope’s desk
- Cardinal Pell returned to the Vatican in September after the High Court quashed his convictions
The meeting was confirmed in the Holy See’s daily bulletin.
The Vatican released a photo of the private audience showing Cardinal Pell sitting closely to the Pope inside his office while the pair were filmed by a camera crew.
No further details were provided.
Cardinal Pell returned to Rome at the end of September after a nearly three-year absence during which he faced allegations of historic child sex offences in Australia.
This was the 79-year-old’s first meeting with the Pope since his child sex abuse convictions were quashed in April this year.
He had been convicted of sexually abusing two choir boys in the 1990s and served 13 months of his six-year jail sentence before the conviction was overturned by Australia’s High Court.
Cardinal Pell has maintained his innocence throughout the trial and conviction.
When he left Rome in 2017, Cardinal Pell was the Vatican’s Secretariat of the Economy, a powerful position in which he oversaw the Catholic Church’s vast finances.
Vatican facing financial pressure
His return to the Vatican coincides with anti-money laundering evaluators visiting the city-state over a mounting financial scandal that already has cost the jobs of a half a dozen people, including one of the Holy See’s most powerful cardinals, Cardinal Angelo Becciu.
Cardinal Pell and Cardinal Becciu had long clashed over the Australian’s efforts to bring greater transparency and accountability to the Vatican’s balance sheets.
The Council of Europe’s Moneyval team will be checking the Vatican’s compliance with international norms to fight money laundering and terror financing.
Moneyval has generally given the Holy See positive to mixed reviews in its periodic evaluations.
Its main criticism in recent years has been directed at the Vatican’s criminal tribunal, which it faulted for failing to prosecute many cases despite receiving dozens of suspicious transaction reports from the Vatican’s financial watchdog.
Vatican prosecutors last year opened a corruption investigation into the Holy See’s investment in a London real estate venture, but to date no-one has been indicted.
The Vatican’s secretariat of state has sunk more than 350 million euros (nearly $570 million into the London venture, much of the money donations from the faithful.
Tens of millions of dollars were paid in fees to Italian businessmen who acted as middlemen in the real estate deal.
Last month Pope Francis fired Cardinal Becciu, who had helped to orchestrate the original deal.
Cardinal Pell congratulated the Pope after Cardinal Becciu was sacked.
“I hope the cleaning of the stables continues in both the Vatican and Victoria,” Cardinal Pell said in a statement.